God’s Word for You
1 Corinthians 12:26 Do not neglect your mother
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 18, 2023
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
If the heart of the physical body suffers or dies, the whole body suffers and dies. But we know that in certain cases, a stopped heart can be started again if it is done in time, and in that case, the whole body will return to life, including the mind, the memory, and love and faith will not be forgotten.
If a member of the church suffers, every member suffers alongside. This might not be an emotional suffering, but an unnecessary and sad grief within the members of the church. In the past and to a lesser extent in the present, there has been a feeling that certain occupations or positions within the church have a greater value than others. Before the Reformation, monks and nuns were given a special glory, and priests, bishops, and cardinals above all. In our time, teachers, ministers and pastors can sometimes be thought to have a special holiness, but truly the chief difference is not any status or holiness of living, but the divine call. “Meanwhile,” our Confession says, “the commandments of God according to each person’s calling were without honor—namely that the father brought up his children, that the mother bore children, that the prince governed the nation—these were works that were accounted to be worldly and imperfect, and far below [others]. And this greatly tormented devout consciences, who grieved that they were held in an imperfect state of life, such as being in a marriage, or in the government, or other community service.”
But today there are many who despise preaching and preachers, because there are so many who have a very public popularity and some of whom fleece their people for millions of dollars, so that when one of them is exposed to be a fraud, the whole office of ministry suffers.
But Paul’s main point is about those special spiritual gifts given to the church through its various members. He will discuss them again in greater detail in chapter 14, but we should remember that all of the gifts and roles God gives are for the benefit of the whole church. Luther said: “The peacock complains because he doesn’t have the nightingale’s voice. God, with apparent inequality, has instituted the greatest equality… God finely illustrates human society in the members of the body, and shows that one member must serve and help the other, and that none can be without the other.”
The sinful nature fails to give honor where honor is due. Poor Leah, Israel’s wife, hoped that when she bore her sixth son it might make a difference in her marriage. “Now my husband will honor me,” she said (Genesis 30:20). But Israel was foolish with her and wasted her affection, even though she personally gave birth to half his sons including the ancestor of the Savior. When we do not treat each other with respect, aren’t we in fact mistreating God himself? He says: “If I am a father, where is my honor? If I am a master, where is my fear?” (Malachi 1:6). And Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Caring for one another begins in the home, and giving honor and respect begins in the very same place. “Do not neglect your mother. Honor her all the days of your life; do what is pleasing to her, and do not neglect her.” Solomon says, “It is not honorable to seek your own honor” (Proverbs 25:27), but Paul also reminds us: “Old men (should be taught) to be temperate and worthy of respect” (Titus 2:2). That means that a man can expect respect from his children under the Fourth Commandment, but he should also live a life that is worthy of that respect and be self-controlled, sound in his faith, not given to fits of rage and never of drunkenness or succumbing to the temptations of drugs, immorality, pornography, foul language, or despising the Word of God. “Be ashamed of immorality!” is excellent advice. Peter says more simply: “Show proper respect for everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
That last exhortation, “Honor the king,” is how Christians should show love and respect to one another. Keep on loving one another, and entertain strangers, “for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1).
When you talk to children, speak to them as you would speak to an old friend who is a special guest; someone you are very pleased to see. Let them be welcome in your conversations. Don’t shoo them away because you are doing or talking about “grown-up things.” Explain to them why you are happy, worried, tired, busy, in need of five minutes to yourself, or whatever else they will profit from hearing. Give them special honor, for they are the future of God’s church in the world.
Pastor Timothy Smith